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The Case of Anna O.

One of the first cases that inspired Freud in the development of what would eventually become the Psychoanalytic Theory was the case of Anna O. Anna O. was actually a patient of one of Freud’s colleagues Josef Breuer. Using Breuer’s case notes, Freud was able to analyze the key facts of Anna O’s case.

Anna O. first developed her symptoms while she was taking care of her very ill father with whom she was extremely close. Some of her initial symptoms were loss of appetite to the extent of not eating, weakness, anemia, and development a severe nervous cough. Eventually she developed a severe optic headache and lost the ability to move her head, which then progressed into paralysis of both arms. Her symptoms were not solely physical as she would vacillate between a normal, mental state and a manic-type state in which she would become extremely agitated. There was even a notation of a time for which she hallucinated that the ribbons in her hair were snakes.

Toward the end of her father’s life she stopped speaking her native language of German and instead only spoke in English. A little over a year after she began taking care of her father he passed away. After his passing her symptoms grew to affect her vision, a loss of ability to focus her attention, more extreme hallucinations, and a number of suicidal attempts (Hurst, 1982).